I'm putting together my plans for my new property. I've got a lot of lawn that eventually I want to turn into food production. But it's a lot of space, so I can't get to it all right away. My plan was to plant a nitrogen fixer into the lawn this spring, so it can start getting to work increasing fertility. Dutch clover was my first choice because it's short and our bees would love it However I was just reading that folks have found it increases deer traffic because they love the clover. I was wondering if you've experienced this and if so, any advice you pass on - using a different n-fixer? Thanks much!
I wouldn't worry about the clover attracting deer, if you're putting in a food forest it's going to be a deer magnet anyways. Also, if your goal is to increase soil fertility, the deer droppings are an added bonus.
If you take a moment to update your profile with a location people would be better able to answer most questions. As an example, the nitrogen fixer I grow is the Texas bluebonnet (an annual lupine wildflower) but it has a reputation of being very finicky outside it's native range so it wouldn't be the first thing I'd recommend to someone in Michigan or Virginia.
I have attributed a lot of things to deer, when it was the rabbits that were eating the plants, or packrats that were chewing off stems and leaves for nesting material. The only thing that stops any of these is a chicken wire fence, 8 feet high to keep the deer out, bent outward at the bottom at least 6 inches and held down by letting the grass grow through it. Even then, clever birds see colorful tomatoes and apples and pears and help themselves.
But, for nitrogen fixing for summer growth, a mixture of field peas, beans and clovers will not only fix nitrogen, but their foliage can be mowed or chopped finely and left as mulch. Let some of them re-seed for late summer growth. I've found these mixes at nurseries.
The most reliable natural source is look around your own area for nitrogen fixers already growing there and get the seeds or transplant the native ones. Vetch is pretty common, has pink flowers. Those are most likely critter resistant and will suit your climate.